Schools Plan to Return to Campus Next Fall, Despite The Concerns Of Some Students

Signs+requiring+face+covering+line+the+edge+of+the+FCC+campus.++

Photo by: David Richards

Signs requiring face covering line the edge of the FCC campus.

Story By: Lauren Tacotaco, Reporter

Universities of California and California State Universities plan to reopen campuses and return to in-person instruction in the fall, and with some schools, including Fresno City College, considering similar plans, students are concerned.  

In a virtual forum via Zoom, Don Lopez, Vice President of Instruction, informed viewers that FCC is currently keeping most classes online and is focused on having more synchronous classes. 

“With the idea that in the fall, if the vaccinations go well and that the virus declines, that we would have an opportunity to return to a — well, what you might consider to be a more normal state for the college where we have students who are on campus in a face-to-face environment,” he said. 

As a student who attends both CSU Fresno and FCC, I believe the best option for FCC is to stay primarily online next semester.

Although vaccines are being administered and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines such as social distancing will most likely be recommended, allowing huge populations of students on campus is not practical. 

Prior to the pandemic, I was able to experience a “normal” semester at Fresno State. I remember almost all of my classes being filled. Some of them even allowed students on the waitlist to be in the classroom despite it being full. 

Now, I cannot even imagine as many students being in one classroom, so to hear that most in-person classes will return is a little concerning.  

Given the large number of students on campus, enforcing safety precautions such as social distancing, proof of vaccinations, and mask-wearing might also be difficult. 

For example, a university in Indiana was one of the colleges that reopened its campus early and implemented numerous health and safety measures for the fall 2020 semester. 

Despite all the measures, the university experienced an outbreak of 371 cases in the first few weeks of being open. Most of the cases were amongst students who lived off campus as reported by the CDC

With that said, I would rather continue remote learning than return back to campus if it ensures my safety and health. 

Other students have also shared their opinions on the decisions to potentially return in the fall. 

Gwyneth Quitorio, a psychology major and senior at CSU Fresno, says the thought of returning to campus is surreal. 

“I don’t feel safe going back to campus knowing that not everyone has gotten their vaccine yet,” she said “I haven’t even gotten my vaccine yet and I’m not sure when it will be available to me.”

If there is one student that feels this way, there are most likely others regardless if they attend a CSU, UC, or Community College. 

Archana Mohan, microbiology professor at CSU Fresno, explained  how microbiology labs require close interactions with students. 

Therefore she is concerned about how and if safety precautions would be strictly and effectively enforced in every lab. 

“Repopulating the campus brings tremendous joy to me but we have to be extremely cautious. Without getting vaccinations, I would be hesitant to delve into the complexity of teaching microbiology labs,” she said. 

Some people may argue that reopening schools and businesses now is the best option since it’s bound to happen eventually. 

However, this impatience could potentially do more harm than good which is why the decisions and plans must be made carefully and with thought. 

Regarding the fall 2021 semester, FCC administration is planning and looking into allowing a limited number of courses back on campus in a scheduled manner, according to Lopez. 

If we could return, and we have the ability to do so, we will return to on campus face-to-face.” Lopez said. “But again, if the COVID virus does not decline, then we would utilize that synchronous environment in the online space to still have live interaction between students.” 

FCC journalism student, Samantha Morales, weighed in her opinion.

“I feel that if there is no plan, these things could go terribly wrong drastically. Of course, everyone is wanting to go back to how things were, but we must be smart and not rush,” she said. 

Despite Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, lifting the state’s stay-at-home order in late January, the best option for FCC is to continue remotely in the fall. 

Doing so will not only keep minds at peace, it will also keep everyone safe.